World Happiness Report published by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network ranks India 118th position among 156 countries in the measure of happiness. The Report reveals a significant decrease in the level of happiness of South Asian countries. Unhappiness and stress might lead to depression and anxiety, and the cases of the same could be found in the very own campus of IIT Kharagpur. World Happiness Report, 2013 demonstrates that a large amount of cases of depression and anxiety disorders occur between the age groups of 15 and 24 years. Hence, being an institute of national importance, IIT Kharagpur can play a major role in improving the current scenario and to promote science and practice of positivity for fostering meaningful life. Furthermore, a survey by the Happiness Research Institute regarding correlations between social relations and happiness level depicts the direct proportionality between happiness level and satisfaction with social relationships as well as participation in the society.
In a belief of exploring the science behind happiness, IIT Kharagpur Alumnus, Mr. Satinder Singh Rekhi along with Director, IIT Kharagpur, Prof Partha Pratim Chakraborty brought the idea of a new course on ‘The Science of Happiness’ and planned to involve the course in academic curricula of IIT Kharagpur. The inaugural event was organized at Lalit Great Eastern Hotel, Kolkata on 23rd September 2016 in the esteemed presence of Director, IIT Kharagpur, Dean of Alumni Affairs, Mr. Siddhartha Mukhopadhyay and Director General, DRDO, Mr. Manas K Mondal.
A workshop on the same was organized on 24th and 25th of September 2016. Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky, bestselling author of ‘The How of Happiness’ and ‘The Myths of Happiness’ and a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California spoke on how to bring happiness in organizations and why it is necessary at the workplace. Mr. R. Gopalakrishnan, an eminent business leader and former director of TATA Sons Limited discussed innovations and positive thoughts and how they behave as key transformational tools of a leader. The importance of social well-being and happiness for gaining mind-body balance as illustrated by Mr. Ajeet Saxena, Chief Commercial Manager, Southern Railways clearly encapsulates that the objective of the event was to promote the science and practice of positivity for fostering meaningful life, happiness, wellbeing and holistic self-development.
The workshop also included events and competitions on fields like projects, photography, painting, films, and Story. The theme included what is the role of science in happiness and how happiness is related to the science. The role of technology here is to understand the nature of happiness and to create the technology and environment to make the people happy.
The Probers of Happiness
As conveyed by Research scholar Mr. Laxmi Kant Tiwari, anxiety, hypertension, stress and depression cause more than 300 billion dollars of loss per annum in the USA alone. IIT Kharagpur would be creating technology to measure happiness and provide the technical assessment by measuring stress level, emotions, and sleep. Professor Aurobinda Routray is involved in the technical aspect of the program. Research Scholar Mr. Anirban Das Gupta and his team is helping Professor Aurobinda Routray to measure emotions and stress level. Research scholar Mr. Laxmi Kant Tiwari, along with Mr. Hemanth Pathath, is working on sleep studying devices.
IIT Kharagpur has planned to set up Rekhi Centre of Excellence for Science of Happiness named after IIT Kharagpur Alumnus Mr. Satinder Singh Rekhi. As quoted by Dr Manas Kumar Mandal, Director General, Life Sciences DRDO, "Students are unable to identify their problems and this often results in a case of conflicts", hence the center would start an applied micro-credit course on ‘The Science of Happiness, whose area of interest would be research, training program and outreach. This course might be available as an audit course too in near future. The components of the course would include the defining science of happiness, brain changes, inner and outer parameters as well as happiness at the workplace. The course will include pre and post measurement of psychological conditions of the students. Being an applied course, it would help students in self-resolving the problems. It would help the students avoid stress and depression.
"The Science of Happiness" Course
This course would energize students and help them get interconnected as relationships and strong bonding with family and friends are major reliefs to a depressed mind, materialistic living, gratification, disengaged relationships, and despair. This would promote resilience, spirituality, creativity and social skills.
A 1-0-1 credit 4-week course titled as ‘Introduction to the Science of Happiness’ would be beginning tentatively from the fourth week of October 2016.
The structure is based on similar courses that are being run in prominent universities of the world including Harvard University and Pennsylvania University.
The proposed course involving 10 hours of lectures and 5 hours of interaction and activities would explore various components through psychometric and physiological measures, and introspection. Some areas covered under the course would be the mechanism of happiness, its ingredients, components, field testing, and critical reevaluation.
The course would be led by a team of faculty comprising of Professor D. Suar, Professor V. N. Giri, Professor Rajlakshmi Guha, Professor Tuheena Chakrabarti and Professor Priyadarshi Patnaik. Director General, Life Sciences, DRDO Prof Manas K Mandal would visit the campus for guest lectures in the course.
The center plans to offer electives as well as micro-specializations in the courses from 2017.
As conveyed by Prof Priyadarshi Patnaik, an application is being designed with the objective to map the people who are not in a healthy state of mind. Further details of the same would be revealed once the application is in function.
"This course would be very helpful for people who are introspecting and who are thinking about what to do with career"
Sources: World Happiness Report 2013, California Institute of Technology